The Pentagon is considering a proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, small precision bombs fitted onto abundantly available rockets, allowing Kyiv to strike far behind Russian lines as the West struggles to meet the demand for more weapons.
US and allied military inventories are shrinking, and Ukraine faces an increasing need for more sophisticated arms as the war drags on.
Boeing’s proposed system, dubbed Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), is one of about a half-dozen plans for getting new munitions into production for Ukraine and the US’s Eastern European allies, industry sources said.
GLSDB could be delivered as early as spring 2023, according to a document reviewed by Reuters news agency and three people familiar with the plan. It combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket motor, both of which are common in US inventories.
Doug Bush, the US Army’s chief weapons buyer, told reporters at the Pentagon last week the military was also looking at accelerating production of 155mm artillery shells – currently manufactured only at government facilities – by allowing defence contractors to build them.
The invasion of Ukraine drove up demand for American-made weapons and ammunition, while US allies in Eastern Europe are “putting a lot of orders” in for a range of arms as they supply Ukraine, Bush added.